2006 HONORS COURSES
HONR 238J Making Public Policy
Tuesday/Thursday, 9:30-10:45 a.m.
David Falk , JD, Senior Fellow, School of Public Policy
Have you thought about how public policy is really made
after the hubbub of elections is over? Have you wondered how the structure
of government works in practice? Have you asked how, as an ordinary
citizen, you can have an influence over public policy once you have
cast your vote?
In this course, we explore the processes by which public
policy is made in the federal government, from enactment of legislation
by Congress through its implementation in the executive branch and the
courts. We focus primarily on the story of the Family and Medical Leave
Act of 1993. (That law requires that most employers grant up to 12 weeks
of leave without pay, each year, to most of their employees who need
to care for sick family members or look after their own health needs.)
We look for answers to such questions as: Who thought up this policy,
and why? How did it get to Congress? Why did the law come out the way
it did? And why did its enactment take eight years? Why wasn’t the conflict
over once the policy became law? By what criteria should we judge whether
this policy serves the public interest? And what does this story tell
us about democracy in America?
This is a practical course. You will design your own
public policy on reducing accidents by teenage drivers, analyze how
people argue policy positions, investigate strategies for success, and
learn how ambiguities and inconsistences are resolved through executive/administrative
processes and court decisions. And you will meet some of the key participants
in the saga of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
You will be required to write one 20-page (double spaced)
term paper on any current public policy of your choice, interviewing
at least two individuals who actively participated in the policy’s formulation
or implementation. Your instructor will guide you to readily available
research resources to enable you to learn the historical and policy
background, identify the principal players, and follow the current status
of your chosen policy. There will be a mid-term exam, but no final.
Readings will include:
Ronald D. Elving, Conflict and Compromise, How Congress Makes the Law
John Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies
Selected short excerpts from books and articles.
CORE–Social and Behavioral Sciences [SB]